I Found a Skin-Care Ingredient That’s 5 Times More Hydrating Than Hyaluronic Acid

Photo: Getty Images/Tony Anderson
When it comes to hydration, hyaluronic acid has always been king. Sure, ingredients like ceramides and squalene can get the job done, but they don't hold a candle to HA—which as any beauty geek will happily tell you "holds 1,000 times its weight in water." But theres a new ingredient in town that's going to give the OG hydrator a run for its money.

Meet polyglutamic acid, the buzzy new kid on the skincare block that quite literally blows hyaluronic acid out of the water. Research has found that it can absorb up to 5,000 times its own weight in waterfor anyone keeping track, thats 5 times what hyaluronic acid is capable of—and with that brings a whole lot of skin-tastic benefits.

The peptide, which comes from fermented soybeans (the more you know!), is an A+ humectant that also helps to increase the production of natural moisturizing factors in your skin. So basically, it creates more hydration while also locking in what's already in there—think of it as a sort of moisture seal. It also enhances elasticity and plumps skin, giving it an instant smoothing effect that would otherwise require an Instagram filter to achieve, and helps to treat fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging. According to Janelle Vega, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of BIA Life, there's also promising research related to PGA's use in blocking and repairing pigment, but nothing conclusive has emerged on this (yet).

The reason it works so well to get sh*t done? Because the protein is already present in your skin. "It has always been in our skin but only recently has it been included in skincare," says Mark Curry, co-founder of UK skin-care brand The Inkey List, which has a PGA serum (for only $15!) that exemplifies just how effective the ingredient can be when it comes to hydration.

Before you toss all of your hyaluronic acid serums to make way on your shelves for this Polyglutamic powerhouse, it's worth noting that the ingredients actually work best together. "Another important function of this molecule is that it blocks the function of an enzyme that breaks down your body’s natural hyaluronic acid, called hyaluronidase, so, used in combination with—not in place of—hyaluronic acid, it may have synergistic effects," says Dr. Vega.

The best way to use it, says Curry, is as a "bookend" with hyaluronic acid: Start with HA, which actually makes your other products more effective when it's put on first, then serum, then follow up with PGA and seal everything in with moisturizer. 

While people with dry skin are the best candidates for adding polyglutemic acid into their routines (because, hydration), everyone can reap the benefits of this hydrating hero.

We also can't stop buzzing about fruit ingredients, which seem to have taken our skin-care collections by storm. Plus, how you should be changing your routine now that summer (read: humidity season) has officially set in. 

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